Author Archives: Ian Burke

@MiddInfoSec: Information Security’s ‘Security Scout of the Month’

To help raise awareness about community efforts to prevent significant security issues, Middlebury Information Security has launched a ‘Security Scout of the Month’ award.

This month Information Security would like to recognize Amy Dale who promptly and accurately responded to potential malware activity by unplugging her computer and reaching out to the Help Desk for immediate assistance.

When asked, Amy shared this advice about computer security, “My previous work experience, particularly at AOL, helped prepare me to be more alert and aware of scams. A previous manager always said, “when in doubt, leave it out.”  In other words, when you’re the least bit hesitant, then don’t open/click/download, etc. “

This astute awareness and keen insight is why Amy is this month’s ‘Security Scout of the Month’.

We are excited to celebrate the hard work and security conscious efforts of our community. Please watch for the next ‘Security Scout of the Month’ and help us recognize these efforts.

If you would like to recognize an individual for their information security contributions or would like to raise an information security concern, please contact infosec@middlebury.edu.

@MiddInfoSec: Stay Safe and Secure when Online

When you are reading e-mail or browsing online, be on the lookout for suspicious links and deceptive web pages, which are major sources of malware. Also be careful of downloadable files since they can introduce malware. And remember that additional browser plugins and unused applications require additional patching to remain secure. Here are some suggestions to make your day-to-day computing more productive, safe, and secure.

  • Keep your software up-to-date. Be sure to install antivirus updates and regularly check for and install updates for any applications or browser plugins you may run on your computer. (e.g., Adobe Flash and Java)
  • Be more secure! Don’t enter sensitive or personal information into a URL unless you have verified the address and you have ensured its security by checking that it includes HTTPS.
  • When in doubt, ignore. Don’t click on pop-up windows or extraneous ads. And, don’t click on links in emails or web sites until you have verified their destinations by hovering your mouse over the link.
  • Keep your private information safe. Use a strong, unique password or passphrase for each account, and avoid storing account information on a website. And consider using a digital password wallet such as 1Password or LastPass to secure your passwords.
  • Segregate your browsing activities. Consider using separate browsers for sensitive logins and general web browsing.
  • Use private networks for sensitive transactions. Avoid checking your bank account, making purchases, or logging in to other websites that include sensitive information when using public Wi-Fi.

Go stealth when browsing. Your browser can store quite a bit of information about your online activities, including cookies, cached pages, and history. To ensure the privacy of personal information online, limit access by going “incognito” and using the browser’s private mode.

@MiddInfoSec: Information Security’s ‘Security Scout of the Month’

To help raise awareness about community efforts to prevent significant security issues, Middlebury Information Security has launched a ‘Security Scout of the Month’ award.

Highlighting the valuable contributions of community security scouts in an @MiddInfoSec blog post and on Middlebury’s Information Security web site is a great way to show how a cautious and thoughtful approach to computing can protect the College community from cyber risks.

As an example, this past month, an attack against Middlebury’s Banner system was avoided thanks to the contributions of an astute member of our community, Justin Allen, who spotted a targeted phishing attack and raised the awareness around this malicious event.

As Justin Allen describes it:

     “I received an email that started out dear account owner which usually gets my attention and as I read down thru the email I noticed that it said I had signed up for a paperless W-2 which I did not and it wanted me to logon to view it. After that I noticed a couple of another things that did not make sense for my Middlebury account one was the sender of the email which wasn’t from the college at all and we all have been told time and time again if the address doesn’t end with middlebury.edu it’s not from the college. Below is a copy of what was sent to me.”

This astute awareness is why Justin is this month’s ‘Security Scout of the Month’.

We are excited to celebrate the hard work and security conscious efforts of our community. Please watch for the next ‘Security Scout of the Month’ and help us recognize these efforts.

If you would like to recognize an individual for their information security contributions or would like to raise an information security concern, please contact infosec@middlebury.edu.

@MiddInfoSec: Preventing Device Theft

With an increasing amount of storage space and institutional connectivity on personal devices, the value and mobility of smartphones, tablets, and laptops make them appealing and easy targets. These simple tips will help you protect against and prepare for the potential loss or theft of a laptop or mobile device.

    • Don’t leave your device alone, even for a minute. If you’re not using it, lock your device in a cabinet or drawer, use a security cable, or take it with you. Middlebury has seen laptops stolen in the College library and from individual’s cars. Don’t assume your devices are safe because you feel at home with your surroundings.
    • Report any lost or stolen device promptly. Both institutional and personal devices may contain Middlebury data. Even if you only lose a personal device, work with the College’s Information Security workgroup to ensure that institutional or sensitive data is accounted for. Information Security may also be able to help you recover the device. If a device is lost or stolen contact the helpdesk at x2200 immediately.
    • Do not store extremely sensitive or internal data. Never store protected or sensitive data on your laptop. Refer to the Data Classification policy for clear definitions of data types. (http://go.middlebury.edu/dcp)
    • Keep your master and working copy of all data on network storage. Keeping your master and working copies of all of your data on Middlebury Google Drive or other secure network file storage such as Middfiles. This ensures that your data is protected and backed-up if your laptop is stolen or lost. Photos, papers, research, and other files are irreplaceable, and losing them may be worse than losing your device.
    • Record the serial number. Keep the serial number and asset tag of your device and store it in a safe place. This information can be useful for verifying your device if it’s found. This is especially important when you travel. Airport and police agencies may ask for this information when reporting lost or stolen devices.
    • Enable device tracking and wiping services. Use tracking and recovery software included with most devices (e.g., the “Find iDevice” feature in iOS) Some software includes remote-wipe capabilities. This feature allows you to log on to an online account and delete all of the information on your laptop. Mobile resources can be found here:
    • Apple iCloud: http://www.icloud.com
    • Microsoft Account: http://account.Microsoft.com/devices
    • Android Device Manager: https://support.google.com/accounts/topic/6160499?hl=e

 

@MiddInfoSec: Don’t Get Hooked

You may not realize it, but you are a phishing target at school, at work, and at home. Phishing attacks are a type of computer attack that use malicious emails to trick targets into giving up sensitive information. Ultimately, you are the most effective way to detect and stop phishing scams. When viewing email messages, texts, or social media posts, use the following techniques to prevent your passwords, personal data, or private information from being stolen by a phishing attack.

    • Verify the source. Check the sender’s email address to make sure it’s legitimate. Remember that the name of the sender is not the important part. The sender’s email address is what you are really looking for. If in doubt, forward your message to phishing@middlebury.edu.
    • Read the entire message carefully. Phishing messages may include a formal salutation, overly-friendly tone, grammatical errors, urgent requests, or gimmicks that do not match the normal tone of the sender.
    • Avoid clicking on erroneous links. Even if you know the sender, be cautious of links and attachments in messages. Don’t click on links that could direct you to a bad website. Hovering your mouse over a link should disclose the actual web address that the link is directing you too, which may be different from what is displayed in the message. Make sure this masked address is a site you want to visit.
    • Verify the intent of all attachments with the sender before opening them. Even when you know a sender, you should never open an attachment unless have checked with the sender to verify the attachment was sent intentionally. Word and Excel documents can contain malicious macros which could harm your computer. Other files, such as zip files and PDF files, could download malware onto your system. Always verify the intent of attachments with the sender before you open them from an email.
  • Verifying a message is always better than responding to a phish. If you ever receive a message that provides reason to pause, it is always better to forward the message to phishing@middlebury.edu or to send a separate email to the sender to verify its intent, before clicking a link or opening an attachment that could potentially impact the security of your computer..
  • Change your passwords if you have fallen for a phish. If you think you have fallen for a phishing attack, change your password at go/password and then contact the helpdesk at x2200. It is also a good practice to change your personal passwords outside of the College.

 

Watch for phishing scams. Common phishing scams are published at sites such as http://IC3.gov , http://phishing.org ,https://www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing. These resources will also allow you to report phishing attacks if you should fall victim outside of the College. Again, if you think you have fallen victim to a phishing attack, always start by changing your passwords.

@MiddInfoSec: Phishing Alert – – “Update Announcements”

A phishing email message was sent to @middlebury.edu mailboxes today with a subject line of “Update Announcements”.  DO NOT RESPOND ON THIS MESSAGE!

The phishing email message is an attack designed to trick people into disclosing their username and password.  Do NOT follow the instructions in the message, as it could lead to your Middlebury account being compromised.

If you were tricked by the email and responded,  reset your network password immediately at go/password and then call the Helpdesk at x2200 for further assistance with your account and any possible concerns with your computer.

Here’s a sample of the phishing email message:


Dear middlebury.edu User.

Urgent Update Announcements.

Your middlebury.edu Account has been Sign in with a strange IP Address: And this indicate your mail account is been used for FRAUDULENT ACT, For these reasons, Our records indicate you are no longer our current/active user. Therefore, your account has been scheduled for deletion on this Month of APRIL, 2016. As part of this process, your account, files, email address messages etc, will be deleted from our Data Base.

To Retail Your Account.

You are required to reply with your valid ONLINE ACCESS for reactivation, to ensure Your account remains active and subscribed, Otherwise this account will be De-activated within the next 72 hours hence from now.

Name In Full:

User Name:

Pass Word:

@middlebury.edu

Thank You.



 

Come Secure your Mobile Device

Learn about Mobile Security

Plan ahead for an afternoon RoadShow with Information Security March 30th @ 2:00 in Lib145.

This is an opportunity for you to ask questions and converse on topics such as:

  • How do I add a pin to my mobile device
  • Is my device encrypted
  • How do I track my device if lost
  • How do I remote wipe my device
  • How do I ensure my data is backed up

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Get help securing your mobile device.

Join Information Security in Lib145 @ 2:00PM on March 30th.

Follow Information Security on Twitter @MiddInfoSec.

Beware of Fake Order/Fake Invoice Emails with Malicious Attachments

Attackers commonly use the macro functionality found in Microsoft Word and Excel to attack their victims. They attach malicious document file to an email. When opened, the files can lead to a virus infection on your computer.  If you ever get a message with any of these attachments, particularly if you were not expecting it, do NOT open the attachment.

We have received reports for faked order confirmation and fake invoice emails this week that have been well crafted. The faked emails included malicious Microsoft Word documents bearing malware. A couple of examples are included below.

ALWAYS verify unexpected emails with the sender, particularly if they include attachments.

NEVER open attachments that you are not expecting without first verifying they are legitimate with the sender.

If you do open an attachment or file that you suspect is malicious unplug your network cable and contact the helpdesk at x2200 immediately.

fake-invoice-email fake-order-summary-email

@MiddInfoSec: Securing Mobile Devices

Information Security has a new Twitter feed and other new content on their website. Follow us at @MiddInfosec on Twitter or visit our website at http://go.middlebury.edu/infosec

Mobile devices have become one of the primary ways that we communicate and interact with each other. Powerful computers now fit in our pockets and on our wrists, allowing us to bank, shop, view our medical history, work remotely, and communicate from virtually anywhere. With all this convenience comes added risk, so here are some tips to help secure your devices and protect your personal information.

    • Password-protect your devices. Protect the data on your mobile device and enable encryption by enabling passwords, PINs, fingerprint scans, or other forms of authentication. On most current mobile operating systems you have the option to encrypt your data when you have a password turned on. Turn it on!
    • Secure those devices and backup data. Make sure that you can remotely lock and/or wipe each mobile device. That also means you should back up your data on each device in case you need to use the remote wipe function. Services such as iCloud, OneDrive, and Google offer device location, wipe and backup services.
    • Verify app permissions. Don’t forget to review which privacy-related permissions each application is requesting, before installing it. Be cautious of fake applications masquerading as legitimate programs by verifying that the application is from a reputable source, such as the Apple Apps Store, Microsoft’s Store, or Google’s Play Store. Occasionally,  applications in the official stores can include malware. Read reviews and descriptions carefully. Only install applications that you need. Remove applications that you are no longer using.
    • Update operating systems. Security fixes or patches for mobile devices’ operating systems are often included in these updates. Just like patching a computer, iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile all need to be patched and kept current.
    • Be cautious of public Wi-Fi hotspots. When using your mobile device, watch for connections to public hotspots. Many mobile devices will automatically connect to hotspots and prioritize data transmission over Wi-Fi by default. Verify that your settings require manually selecting hotspots if possible. Working with sensitive data while connected to a public hotspot could lead to unintended data exposure. Always ensure that you are using a secure connection.
    • Always apply safe computing practices. Whether traveling with a mobile device, a laptop, or sitting in a hotel business center, you always want to use safe computing practices to protect your data. See this link for more tips: http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/technology/infosec/education/training/SafeComputing.

 

@MiddInfoSec: A New Phishing Attack is Targeting Email ID’s

A new phishing attack is hitting the campus with a subject line of, “Your email id”. Delete this message if you see it. Do NOT click any links in this message. If you believe you have fallen for this fishing attack:

This malicious email would have looked similar to the message below.

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Subject: Your email id

Your?mail Id has used 91% of its allowable storage space.?Once your account exceeds the allowable storage space you will be unable to receive any email.?Click?Resolve?to login to your account and resolve this issue.

?

Support

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For additional information on phishing please visit http://go.middlebury.edu/phish .